Arteta feeling his way back to fitness after lengthy lay-off

EVERTON midfielder Mikel Arteta last night admitted he had forgotten what it was like to prepare for games after a lengthy knee injury.

The 27-year-old is looking to retain his place in the side against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League tonight at Goodison Park.

The Spaniard made his first start in almost a year last week in the Toffees’ superb victory over Chelsea last week.

He is likely to be called on again in the first leg of the round of 32 as Marouane Fellaini is recovering from an ankle injury.

Arteta said: “When I returned it felt like I had never played in my life. I had to get prepared for the game at home and think about the way I had to eat and rest.

“I am trying all I can but I was planning to have more weeks training with the lads. However with Fellaini’s injury we’ve had to rush it a bit. It is going to take a while to get to my best but with the passion I have for every game hopefully that will compensate a bit.”

Arteta is relieved to be on the mend after the injury took longer to heal than anticipated and believes Everton are one of the teams to fear in the competition.

He said: “I was worried as I had a couple of setbacks. It was really hard for me. I have missed matches for a year so you can imagine how excited I am now. The pressure is on myself but it helps that the team is winning.

“Tomorrow is a special game as this is the only way we can get a trophy this year and that is something we are desperate to do. We have the potential and the players. We have good experience at this level the last few years. Looking at the other teams we can compete with them.”


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